According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18.1% of the population each year. They’re the most common mental health disorders of children and adolescents, affecting young people at different times throughout development. Though anxiety is prevalent among the teenage population, there are a few things you can do to help care for your teen. Here are six ways to provide a positive home environment for your teen with anxiety.
Clutter plays a huge role in affecting physical and mental health. Not only can clutter increase stress and anxiety levels, it can foster unhealthy eating habits, trigger respiratory issues, and encourage feelings of isolation. Aim to straighten up major areas of the house, like the kitchen and living room. You should also help your teen de-clutter the bathroom and bedroom. Targeting these rooms can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in teens and motivate them to focus on more important and positive priorities.
- Create a peaceful haven for rest
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest culprits for anxiety and can be remedied by getting an adequate amount of sleep. Make sure the mattress in your teen’s bedroom is comfortable, swap out lumpy pillows for supportive ones, set the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees, and stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends—this will help your teen adhere to a consistent sleep-wake cycle and allow him or her to get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
- Be flexible, but try to maintain a normal routine
Occasionally, your teen’s anxiety may escalate to where he or she doesn’t want to leave the house or participate in any activities. One of the most important things you can do when this happens is to stay calm and modify your expectations. While you don’t want your teen to miss school for an entire week, you can be flexible every now and then and make it known that you’re there for emotional and physical support.
If your teen is having increasing difficulty with anxiety, you may want to consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During CBT, a therapist will help identify what thoughts and behaviors cause the anxiety and work on reducing those feelings. Find a therapist that specializes in working with teens and plan to visit the specialist on a regular basis.
- Address sounds that contribute to anxiety
Having a leaky faucet that continues to drip or hearing the dryer screech as it cycles through another pile of clothes can trigger anxiety in a child, no matter how minor these sounds seem. In fact, unwanted sounds have gradually become acknowledged as an environmental stressor and nuisance. If one of your appliances needs to be repaired, see if it’s covered by a home warranty or product insurance plan (these will usually cover the cost of repairs and replacements if the appliance has broken down to normal wear and tear) and get it fixed as soon as possible. If it’s not covered by a warranty, either attempt to fix the issue yourself or schedule a time for a technician to come out and address the problem.
- Practice meditation
Relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety and negative thoughts and help manage stress. Common meditation techniques include practicing yoga, participating in meditation, listening to soothing music or white noise, and focusing on deep breathing. Have your teen take 20 minutes out of each day to be still and relax. Let your teen know that in meditation it is important to remain as still as possible, so you can focus your thoughts on the immediate moment instead of distracting issues and worries.
- Empower your teen to change the way he or she thinks
When teens understand that they have the power to talk back to their negative thoughts and control what they think about, they can feel empowered to cope with anxiety-producing stressors. Have a conversation with your teen about stopping intrusive and overwhelming thoughts by reminding her who she is, her accomplishments, and some positive highlights from day.
Additionally, teens should be encouraged to face their fears— Is the thought of graduation overwhelming them? Are they worried about getting a job? Is there a relationship they’re struggling through? Talk about the scenario that’s affecting your teen most and go over the potential outcomes, leaving him or her with an encouraging reminder instead of doubts.
Author Bio: Kay Carter is a writer from Raleigh, NC. When she isn’t writing about health or the latest wellness trends, she enjoys reading, traveling, and practicing photography.
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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